The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics, by David Goodhart (Hurst, £20)
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There are many reasons to be grateful to David Goodhart. He established this magazine in 1995 and was its editor until 2010. It was a sterile period of political and cultural thought, with a Labour Government uncritically cheerleading globalisation, and a Conservative Party that could not reconcile itself to the generosity of the times. Prospect offered a gentle form of intellectual dissent in these years of “progressive” hegemony—daring to suggest that, perhaps, things don’t only get better. It probed particularly on the question of exactly who benefits from economic success, and it grappled with the thorny but then-unfashionable politics of identity.
Goodhart cut through the stupor with his 2004 Prospect cover-essay entitled “Too Diverse?” He questioned the orthodoxy that immigration and multiculturalism were unconditional benefits. Approaching the issue from an essentially Fabian perspective, he argued that a too culturally diverse nation would undermine the national solidarity required to sustain a tax-funded welfare state. For this he was denounced in forceful—even hateful—terms by some liberals, confirming the paradox that there is no one more exclusive than the person who upholds inclusivity.
The second reason to be grateful to David Goodhart is that he did not repent his position. Rather, he doubled down on explaining to liberals why so many working-class and poorer people were disaffected with the political consensus. In 2013 he published The British Dream, which engaged more deeply with the connected themes of mass migration, globalisation, national identity and the gaps in progressive thought. His bravery has been vindicated by recent political events—most notably the Brexit vote last year, in which the relationship between democracy and immigration was salient.
The Road to Somewhere is his latest attempt to offer therapeutic analysis to traumatised progressives who, despite believing they were on the right side of history, were on the wrong end of the referendum result. (As a side note it is strange, as a former magazine editor, that he has such a tin ear for book titles and further, that his prose at times is more reminiscent of the social sciences than of popular journalism.)
This meticulously researched book, which draws on original data concerning social attitudes, divides Britain into two tribes: the Anywheres and the…